Juventutem Mass, I spent all of the Mass hearing confessions. It was interesting that there was no confession room, therefore no option for face to face confession , only those very trad double sided continental boxes, with a grill and a curtain and a shutter on both sides and double doors in front of the priest to close when a penitent came. I haven't used one before, I was a little worried that I might have a penitent on both sides which fortunately that didn't happen: I wasn't quite sure of the etiquette. The good thing about hearing confessions in such anonymity, is penitents tend to stay focussed on confessing sins rather than wanting counselling.
The other good thing is because the box is so public, I felt quite safe, which I don't always in an "open" modern confession room.
St Patrick's has finished their £3m restoration and very nice it is too. Here, at St Mary Magdalen's our budget is more modest and therefore our progress is much, much slower. One of the features I was glad to see were the rather handsome altar rails. Here, in Brighton, people ask for the restoration of the altar rails and a lot of people choose to receive Holy Communion kneeling but in this part of the Church there is an ideological problem with them. It would just be a waste of time and money to go through the process of designing them, making drawings and applying for permission to install them.
Apart from the obvious advantages for those who wish to receive the Lord kneeling, the young don't have a problem but the elderly do, is that the form a barrier between the nave and the sanctuary. I have been trying to encourage parents to bring small children to the front so they can see. If I were less than 4ft high and had to spend an hour looking at someone's rear end, I would be very naughty! However, parents are a little nervous about it, one dad said he was terrified his five year old son might run onto the sanctuary and pull the altar cloth off. Altar rails would solve the problem.
Interestingly, the Churches around here that are able to be kept open, without supervision, all have a strong distinction between the nave and the sanctuary, either rails or a very raised sanctuary. This gives the impression that the sanctuary is alarmed or has some othe security provision, without a barrier of some sort people seem happy to wander around at will.